Pacific Northwest - Day 2 - Olympic Natl. Park - Lake Quinault, Ruby Beach, Hoh Rainforest

Olympic National Park Travel Blog

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Lake Quinault Section: Big Cedar Tree inside looking out

Olympic National Park is a very versatile National Park, located on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Tacoma and Seattle. It encompassed four totally different natural features: "regular" forests on the dry eastern side, beaches, sea life and coastal scenes on the western side, Alp-like mountains up to 2432 meters (7980 ft) high, with real glaciers, and on the wet western slopes temperate rain forests. So basically you can start on the beach, drive through a rain forest and end up on a freezing cold snow covered mountain within about an hour.

The park has an area of 373,380 ha (922,650 acres) which makes it about 68 times as large as the Hoge Veluwe National Park in The Netherlands, a bit more that half the province of Utrecht.

And we had only 2.

Ruby Beach Section: Stacks
5 days to visit it! Our approach strategy was: drive up from the south, drive along the western side, along the north side and then leave the peninsula via a ferry. Today we had to move to the park, our destination was the village of Forks, the village where the famous Twilight movies are set (not shot). On our way there we covered three sections of the park.

1) Lake Quinault:
See it here on the map. This south western section of the park gets an annual average of 333 centimeters (131 inches) of rain. The moist winds from the Pacific Ocean release their water when forced high over the Olympic mountain range. Basically the same idea as the trade winds on Hawaii.

Ruby Beach Section: Driftwood
We made a small hike to the amazing "big cedar tree". This tree's age is estimated to be 1000 (one thousand !!) years. It is with its dimensions of 53 meters (174 feet) tall, and a diameter at the base of 6 meters (19.5 feet) a true giant. The tree's huge stem is hollow and so wide that I could stand comfortably inside the tree. Three more persons could have joined me. The tree is still alive but it looks like it won't last another 1000 years.
Another feature we visited is the Anton Kestner Homestead. Kestner was an early settler from Germany who moved here in 1891 and built a farm. The farm is now inside the park and is being restored.

2) Ruby Beach:
See it here on the map. Ruby Beach, was our first impression of the coastal face of Olympic National Park.

On our way to Hoh Rain Forest
The names of the beach is derived form the little glacial stones on the beach. Due to the grinding of the waves they have been polished and shine like rubies. Like almost all northern beaches the beach is packed with driftwood, huges tree stems washed ashore. Another aspect that makes Ruby Beach interesting are the stacks, steep island like land forms in the sea just nearby the coast.

3) Hoh Rain Forest:
See it here on the map. The Hoh rain forest is located in the Hoh Valley which was created by glaciers. The ice made place for abundant grow of vegetation creating one of the largest temperate rain forests in the US. Fed by the extreme moisture it has become a real jungle. Trees that are alive are covered in all kind of mosses, and trees that have perished become nutrition for new trees which grow on the so called nursery logs.

Hoh Rain Forest Section:
The park service has created a few short trails through the forest the Hall of Mosses Trail is the most famous and probably the most spectacular one. Since the trails are not too long we hiked all of them, at least as far as the elks allowed us, signs at the visitors booth warned for aggressive elks. And yes we encountered them. They blocked our path. So, we were forced to make a short cut.

Despite being a travel day, we still had a lot of fun in the park and also got a great impressions of the diversity.

More pictures below. Deze fake-tekst heb ik toegevoegd om net iets meer regels te genereren zodat deze rare website toestaat dat de bijgesloten foto ook vertoond wordt.

yasuyo says:
It's very informative blog!
I may visiting there on my next USA trip!! Looks like amazing plac:)
Thank you for sharing it!!
Posted on: Apr 07, 2014
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Lake Quinault Section: Big Cedar T…
Lake Quinault Section: Big Cedar …
Ruby Beach Section: Stacks
Ruby Beach Section: Stacks
Ruby Beach Section: Driftwood
Ruby Beach Section: Driftwood
On our way to Hoh Rain Forest
On our way to Hoh Rain Forest
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Ruby Beach Section
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Ruby Beach Section: Driftwood
Ruby Beach Section: Driftwood
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Ruby Beach Section: Stacks
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Olympic National Park
photo by: mucqui